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WTO Awards Caribbean Country Right to Ignore US Copyright 460

Posted by Zonk
from the virtual-pirate-league-arrr dept.
The WTO's recent ruling on Antigua's complaint against the US over the banning of online gambling resulted in a payment to the island nation much less than they asked for. It appears, though, that this payment was just part of the WTO's compensation package for Antigua/Barbuda. Via Kotaku, the Hollywood Reporter notes that the Caribbean country can now freely ignore US copyright laws - legally. This dispensation is apparently limited to some $21 million a year. "The WTO often takes decisions awarding trade compensation in cases where one nation's policies are found to break its rules. But this is only the second time the compensation lets one country violate intellectual property laws. In this case, Antigua will -- in theory -- be allowed to distribute copies of American DVDs, CDs and games and software with impunity. 'That has only been done once before and is, I believe, a very potent weapon,' Antigua's lawyer Mark Mendel said. 'I hope that the United States government will now see the wisdom in reaching some accommodation with Antigua over this dispute.'"
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WTO Awards Caribbean Country Right to Ignore US Copyright

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  • yea,, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Heem (448667) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:28PM (#21831500) Homepage Journal
    Under this administration, The WTO and Antiguan people are now terrorists. Prepare for us to spend 1 billion dollars a day in taxpayer funds to attack you now.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by lluBdeR (466879)
      I doubt that'll happen, they don't have any oil. [indexmundi.com]
    • by MacDork (560499) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:49PM (#21831750) Journal
      21 Million? That's it??? Who defines how much the copyright is worth? That's like two movies on Bittorent according to the MPAA.
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        That's like two movies on Bittorent according to the MPAA

        Or one Justin Timberlake MP3 according to the RIAA
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by HeLLFiRe1151 (743468)
      Once the bombing starts... 'I hope that the Antigua government will now see the wisdom in reaching some accommodation with United States over this dispute.'
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sm62704 (957197)
      Oh the irony (when attached to your sig)!

      Under this administration, The WTO and Antiguan people are now terrorists. Prepare for us to spend 1 billion dollars a day in taxpayer funds to attack you now.
      --
      Enjoy Freedom? - Register as Republican


      Methinks ye needs a new sig. Avast! Shiver me timbers! Ye be walkin' the plankk thar, matey!
    • by davidsyes (765062) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @03:21PM (#21832134) Homepage Journal
      in ...

      ANTIGUITY
  • A whole new market (Score:4, Insightful)

    by decowboy (1083777) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:28PM (#21831502)
    for web hosting
    • I'd be interested in seeing if there's an increase in .ag registrations.

      Also, if a site is hosted in Antigua and offers "free downloads" would they have to have a click through agreement where the users checks a box next to a "I promise I'm really in Antigua" statement?

      OH! How far out would be to imagine U.S. isp's trying to block access to *.ag?
      • OH! How far out would be to imagine Antiguan authorities shutting you down because they are limited to $21 million per year. Which is definitely going to go to some local old boys network and not some nerds from out of the country. Try not to let your misplaced excitement cause stains.
      • by HogGeek (456673)
        @ $150 per year, I'd be willing to bet not a lot of individuals
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rudeboy1 (516023)
        Looks like the Pirate Bay ship is going to Antigua.

        Kind of fitting, isn't it? A pirate ship going to the Caribbean...

        I, for one, will be happy to donate $$ to help ship servers and personnel from Sweden to Antigua (as long as it can't be traced. Now it's a multinational effort with Swiss bank accounts! :)). I know it's not necessarily (depending on the application) morally righteous, but I root for these guys because they put a proverbial flaming bag of poo on the MAFIAA's doorstep and generally get away
    • So you think The Pirate Bay is going to start up a sister site?
  • by The One and Only (691315) * <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:30PM (#21831518) Homepage
    Either online gambling is legalized and we win, or we can legally download movies, music, and software from Antigua, and we win. Huzzah for the WTO!
    • by everphilski (877346) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:36PM (#21831586) Journal
      The landmark decision by the Geneva-based trade watchdog means that the tiny islands are able to violate intellectual property protection worth up to $21 million as part of a dispute between the countries over online gambling.

      So they get to "violate" $21M USD worth of IP, then they are infringing. So 21 million MP3's (if iTunes is considered fair market value). Apple claims 2.5 million downloads per week, so presuming everyone from iTunes now downloaded from Antigua at the same rate, they'd be done in 8.4 weeks. Anything past that would be punishable IP infringement.

      But again, those numbers are all suspect, what is the real dollar amount of IP? The point being, though, this isn't a free flowing well, it is finite and capped each year. So enjoy it for a few weeks, Antigua. Christmas in January.
    • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:38PM (#21831616) Journal
      not quite, as a downloader, you still answer to your local authorities. So if I decide to download a copy of Windows Vista from an Antiguian server, I could get in trouble (it's not legal for me to do), but the server's hosts would not.

      Still this strikes me as an odd penalty. If I go and rob a bank, do you put my children in jail? Yes, I would be upset at that, and it would be a deterrent for me, but at the same time, the children did nothing wrong - you should be jailing me.

      They are punishing the US by allowing people to take the works of it's authors, actors, software developers, etc. without compensating them. Yes it punishes the government, but it punishes people completely unrelated to the action even further.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by visualight (468005)
        That's pretty much what sanctions do. But I guess it's okay when the U.S. does it though.
      • by Dolohov (114209) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:46PM (#21831720)
        This is the case with any trade sanctions -- steel tariffs technically only hurt steel producers, not the US government. The point is that they are intended to cause problems for a group with strong lobbying powers, who will then in turn pressure the government to change its ways. If Antigua were to raise steel tariffs, however, they would suffer from higher steel prices, and could then be forced by the US to back down (particularly since they are a small country whose steel input is minimal). By allowing IP exemptions instead, Antigua does not risk being forced by the US to back down.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          This is just like in school when the whole class got punished for something that one guy did. And then we beat up that one guy. Come to think of it that actually worked!
    • by LWATCDR (28044)
      "Either online gambling is legalized and we win"
      Only if you are the house. Otherwise you will loose eventually.
    • Why Music? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RingDev (879105)
      Antigua could legally release any US software's source code under a GPL like license, and the vendor would have to prove each year that Antigua has violated them for more than $21 mil. $21,000,000 is a hell of a write off every year, especially if you aren't selling hundreds of thousands if not millions of copies of the software out side of Antigua.

      Microsoft? Apple? Diebold? Cisco? Oracle?

      A single person with access to code and a $21 million a year grudge to burn might already be shopping for a 1-way ticket
  • Hah. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:30PM (#21831526)
    Attacking recognition of US copyright and patent monopolies is a good way to rein in the USA on an international level. A large chunk of the US economy is now "intangibles", basically fairy dust. To really tank the US economy (only a good thing for the rest of us, despite self-deluding crap in the US about how the rest of the world needs the US to "buy their stuff" - sure, just like black ants need a bunch of lazy-ass red ants lording it over them...), complete lack of recognition of US copyrights and patents would go a long way.

    • by Shakrai (717556) *

      Attacking recognition of US copyright and patent monopolies is a good way to rein in the USA on an international level

      Yes, because of all the things that my country does wrong in the World, banning online gambling ranks at the top of the list of the things we should be "reined in" on.

      To really tank the US economy (only a good thing for the rest of us

      Yes, because when the US economy "tanks" it's a completely isolated event and has no impact on the rest of the World whatsoever. That's why Europe escaped the Great Depression. Oh wait....

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Yes, because of all the things that my country does wrong in the World, banning online gambling ranks at the top of the list of the things we should be "reined in" on.

        What the US should be "reined in" on, is to respect the treaties signed, or start loosing the privileges you got from them, and respect the resolutions, even if they are not favourable to them, when they use the resolutions of the same organizations to force others countries to act.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by es330td (964170)

      A large chunk of the US economy is now "intangibles", basically fairy dust...complete lack of recognition of US copyrights and patents would go a long way

      I know if it feels good to shoot from the hip but next time you should check your facts. Take a look at the Fortune 500 list of companies. Very few, if any, of the companies in the first 100 would be hurt if any kind of large "IP doesn't apply" judgement were to be handed down. Oil, cars, financial services, insurance and construction make up the top 20 and last time I checked we still can't download gas for our cars or even the car in which to put the gas. Not a single predominantly software or entert

  • Internal or export? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phorm (591458) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:31PM (#21831538) Journal
    Does this apply to exports, or in-country use only? Would it mean that an Antiguan company could sell mp3's online to customers in Europe/Canada/USA/Australia? I'm guessing that in the USA you'd be arrested for buying from Antigua, if not due to existing laws then due to something coming in the near future, but how about other countries?
    • by techpawn (969834)
      There are laws against importing bootlegs. So, even though they can ignore the laws to create bootleg copies we're not allowed to ignore them for import or download. Then again IANAL, but that's probably how it will be ruled.
  • by pembo13 (770295) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:31PM (#21831540) Homepage
    I would happily spend my USD with them.
  • Dupe [slashdot.org] .... and a late one at that.
    • Its not quite a dupe, more like an update to the original story.
    • by creimer (824291)
      It's a slow week, Robin, where Slashdot submitters and editors are too drunk with eggnog to go beyond duping the last week's stories. This is one of those times I wished we have the Joker to kick around. :P
  • by Anonymous Coward
    US copyrights are *already* widely ignored. How is this any different?
  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:34PM (#21831562) Journal

    Since when did "free trade" translate into an abandonment of sovereignty in favor of having an unelected global organization dictate national policy? If the people of the United States (or any country) want to ban online gambling then what business of the WTO is it? At least when the WTO steps in over protective tariffs that makes SOME sense. If a product is completely outlawed though, how the hell is a free trade issue?

    Can the Netherlands file a WTO complaint because some of their products (cannabis coffee shops) illegal in the United States? Can the United States file a complaint because some of our exports (pornography) are illegal in Saudi Arabia? Where the hell does it end?

    • by ceejayoz (567949)

      Where the hell does it end?
      Uh, probably with pulling out of the treaty if it becomes too onerous?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vajrabum (688509)
        You could call it abandonment of sovereignty but it was done our government with a really complicated multilateral trade treaty (GATT or General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade started by the US) that established the WTO as the arbiter of disputes. Since Article VI, paragraph 2 of the constitution says: "all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution
    • by bigdavex (155746) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:39PM (#21831624)

      Since when did "free trade" translate into an abandonment of sovereignty in favor of having an unelected global organization dictate national policy? If the people of the United States (or any country) want to ban online gambling then what business of the WTO is it? At least when the WTO steps in over protective tariffs that makes SOME sense. If a product is completely outlawed though, how the hell is a free trade issue?

      You haven't been following this issue. Countries can prohibit trade on moral ground under the WTO. They just can't treat the domestic businesses differently than the foreign ones, which the US does explicitly.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Shakrai (717556) *

        They just can't treat the domestic businesses differently than the foreign ones, which the US does explicitly.

        Yeah we do that all the time. But on this one specific issue I fail to see the problem -- is there something that treats American horse-racing betting sites different then ones from overseas?

        • by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @03:16PM (#21832064) Homepage Journal

          is there something that treats American horse-racing betting sites different then ones from overseas?

          Yes, if you use less specific terms. Change "horse-racing betting" to "gambling" and re-ask the question.

          Apparently, WTO sees the US government's uber-specific microlegislation, where it permits some kinds of gambling and not others, as an absurd joke that is obviously derived from special interests (i.e. private industry's desire to use government power to put money into their own pockets) rather than any sort of principles. In other words, they saw it the same way that we, the citizens of US, do.

      • by eebra82 (907996) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @03:12PM (#21832010) Homepage

        Since when did "free trade" translate into an abandonment of sovereignty in favor of having an unelected global organization dictate national policy? If the people of the United States (or any country) want to ban online gambling then what business of the WTO is it? At least when the WTO steps in over protective tariffs that makes SOME sense. If a product is completely outlawed though, how the hell is a free trade issue?
        You haven't been following this issue. Countries can prohibit trade on moral ground under the WTO. They just can't treat the domestic businesses differently than the foreign ones, which the US does explicitly.
        Correct. And I must add that this bill was hardly a decision made by the citizens of the United States, as the first post claims. UIGEA was sneaked into the Safe Port Act. Now let's take a look at what the Safe Port Act mainly includes:

        * Additional requirements for maritime facitilties
        * Creation of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential
        * Establishment of interagency operational centers for port security
        * Port Security grants
        * Container Security Initiative
        * Foreign port assessments
        * Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism
        If it was a choice made by the citizens of the United States, how come this bill was put at the very end of this huge Safe Port Act bill? One that was definitive and would - with almost no doubt - pass through to the pen of George W. Bush? And it's funny that a great supporter of this bill happened to be a large casino corporation somewhere in the United States.. Oops..
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Soulcat (841274)
      That is the problem, that States did not Ban Online Gambling Completely. The Problems is the US Allowed online Gambling on horse races, The Majority of sites most likely in the states.. Since the states does allow one form of online Gambling, banning other forms is seen as a protective tarriff.
      • by Shakrai (717556) *

        That is the problem, that States did not Ban Online Gambling Completely. The Problems is the US Allowed online Gambling on horse races, The Majority of sites most likely in the states.. Since the states does allow one form of online Gambling, banning other forms is seen as a protective tarriff.

        Cry me a fucking river. So because the "majority" of horse racing gambling is in the states that makes it a protective tariff to outlaw ALL forms of online poker (to pull a random example out of my ass)?

        • by visualight (468005) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:45PM (#21831714) Homepage

          So because the "majority" of horse racing gambling is in the states that makes it a protective tariff to outlaw ALL forms of online poker

          Yep
        • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:52PM (#21831800) Journal
          Yep. The existance of online horse gambling demonstrates that the US really doesn't have a morals problem with online gaming. So, if there's no moral objection, that leaves protectionism, which is a no-no under WTO rules.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PieSquared (867490)
      I believe the point is that gambling is legal in the US. But the US went and decided that the perfectly legal (in their countries, and if they were in the US and not online) gambling institutions on offshore islands were illegal.

      This is more like saying "smoking X is alright in the US. smoking X is alright in the Netherlands. Smoking X you bought online from the netherlands is illegal."
      • Gambling may be legal in the US, but it is illegal in most states, and in the case of gambling, state law trumps federal law. (I honestly have no idea how they determine when state trumps federal and vice versa, I suspect its a magic 8 ball that makes the decision).

        In the overall picture of this particular issue, I suspect the ban was based on money, the inability of the US gov to tax it when it takes place outside the borders, as gambling within the US is heavily taxed.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by zzsmirkzz (974536)
          The bill of rights, silly. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. Basically, it was supposed to be that if the power wasn't expressly granted to the Federal Government in the Constitution, than it was left to the States to decide individually, or the people.
    • by mooingyak (720677)
      The online gambling ban is effectively worse than a tariff. At least with a tariff you can still sell goods to the target market, you just get hit with a markup. The online gambling ban completely outlaws competition with the casinos in the US.
    • by Pfhreakaz0id (82141) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:50PM (#21831772)
      I'll quote from a summary I had lying around: "The trade body found that the U.S. had the right to prevent offshore betting as a means of protecting public order and public morals. But it said Washington was violating trade law by targeting online gambling without equal application of the rules to American operators offering remote betting on horse and dog racing."
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mlwmohawk (801821)
      A treaty like the WTO is not an "abandonment of sovereignty," it is an agreement that basically states: "We agree to these rules and will abide by them for the benefits created by a large community of nations abiding by them as a whole. If someone in this group does not live up to their agreements, we also support sanctions.

      The U.S.A. agreed to abide by the rules and has called for sanctions on other countries based on the rules. The fact that the U.S.A. a HUGE proponent of WTO has chosen to ignore a treaty
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Maxo-Texas (864189)
      That is an interesting point.

      I thought of online gambling as just flat out illegal in some areas.

      So why can't a cannibis shop sell mail order through the internet to the US and make the same complaint.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tshak (173364)
      If the people of the United States (or any country) want to ban online gambling then what business of the WTO is it?

      It became the WTO's business when we signed a treaty [wikipedia.org] making it thier business.
  • by wwmedia (950346)
    where is this wonderful place you all speak of?
  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:38PM (#21831608)

    As I sit looking out my window across a lovely but frigid blanket of white to the filthy, freezing slush on the street and notice a pedestrian being blown off the sidewalk by an icy, knife-edged wind, I think of setting up a nice little pirate factory to legally crank out stuff that will drive the RIAA to frothing, incoherent rage on one of the nicer Caribbean islands.

    And a drink. A drink with an umbrella in it. Could life be better?

  • "Judge: You see, we know this guy owes you money and doesn't want to pay it, but he's really well connected and we can't do anything about it. In return we allow you to steal property from him with no legal repercussions. Let's hope that before you steal it all he'll pay you back."

    A contrived example, but you get the point (I hope). How can a court even allow something like this?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by JoshHeitzman (1122379)
      Because its isn't a guy its a state. It also isn't property its a right created by states via treaty just as the WTO is created by states via treaty.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by m4ximusprim3 (619388)
      "Judge: You see, we know this guy owes you money and doesn't want to pay it, but he's really well connected and we can't do anything about it. In return we will garnish his wages untill you're paid what you're owed" There, fixed that for you. Courts do it all the time.
  • by Bandman (86149)
    Buy a plane ticket before they change their minds!
  • by Malevolent Tester (1201209) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:48PM (#21831738) Journal
    I'm going to setup a copy shop and start selling pirate copies of Ubuntu. Who's with me?
  • Could a company in Antigua take GPL software, strip out the copyrights and then "sell" that newly licensed code to Microsoft?

    So, using Antigua, have they found the hole in the GPL they have been looking for?
    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      Could a company in Antigua take GPL software, strip out the copyrights and then "sell" that newly licensed code to Microsoft?

      Well, for one thing, I would guess that the majority of moderate-to-large-size GPLed projects have one or more notable contributions (and hence copyright) from non-Americans, so that's a spanner in the works for a start.

      And ignoring that issue, I'm guessing that it would still be illegal for Microsoft to copy that stuff, it just wouldn't be illegal for the Antiguans to sell it to them.

  • by Ash Vince (602485) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:54PM (#21831822) Journal
    The truth is that this has been expected for a while. You cannot expect to have one rule for trade flowing one way and then try and exempt certain businesses just because you don't like them. European Governments are not allowed to reject all Genetically modified soya so the US can not reject all gambling.

    Before Bush came into office the US had never lost a single case at the WTO. Now he has lost at least two. The last one I remember was against Europe with regard to an import tax on steel. Here is a link or two:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3291537.stm [bbc.co.uk]
    http://themanufacturer.com/us/detail.html?contents_id=1726 [themanufacturer.com]
    http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/article77803.ece [independent.co.uk]

    In that case the US backed down fairly quickly as the tariffs Europe was going to impose were all designed to damage the economy in places Bush needed to get re-elected. One example given was taxing Florida oranges heavily and making them far more expensive than those from elsewhere. This is what every last tariff was designed to do. The European Union chose products where the same item could be obtained elsewhere for a competitive price (but not after a 30% tax hike was imposed on the US produce).

    In this case turning Antigua into a file sharing haven will be an annoyance, but probably not as dire as what Europe was aiming for. This is especially true when you look at the amounts involved. In this case 21 million dollars per year is fairly small compared to the 2.2 billion that the last dispute could have cost had the US not backed down.
  • by Danathar (267989) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @02:57PM (#21831846) Journal
    I guess this means the GPL is also null and void there as well.

    Not that I'm trying to be a Troll, just a random thought that crossed my mind as interesting.
  • Goods have different prices, so is it:
    • The retail cost; top dollar or discount store
    • Wholesale (bulk)
    • Cost to manufacture
    • Price that Antigua chooses to sell it at
    If the last: then if they find the most expensive copyrighted items and sell copies at 1 penny each, it could cause a lot of damage. It will cause even more damage if all the sales are products of one company - could make it go bust.
  • Now - $21 million may seem like a considerable award. However, according the the RIAA's calculations, this only covers the single "Just a Lil Bit" by artist 50 Cent.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "Now - $21 million may seem like a considerable award. However, according the the RIAA's calculations, this only covers the single "Just a Lil Bit" by artist 50 Cent."

      Since the award is to Antigua, and the profits of the award are to compensate Antigua, its the value in/to Antigua that counts. What the **AA thinks something is worth elsewhere is irrelevant.

      Don't forget - this is as compensation to Antigua - its the revenue that is generated in or for Antigua that counts, not the "damage" elsewhere. The

  • www.cheapDVD.ag

    Will work soon. :~)
  • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Thursday December 27, 2007 @03:05PM (#21831932)
    There's a Disney joke in this somewhere.
  • for "pirates of the caribbean: at world's end" on dvd

    i think antigua should give that sucker away for free

    simply because, a caribbean nation pirating a movie called pirates of the caribbean is just too f***ing funny
  • $21 Million in copyright infringement. At the current rate, that would be... what... like a half dozen CDs?
  • by bruns (75399) <bruns@@@2mbit...com> on Thursday December 27, 2007 @06:11PM (#21834194) Homepage
    "In other news, tonight President Bush announced in to the American people that Antigua is a terrorist state and sponsor of Al Qaeda. Bush repeatedly stated his desire for military action to inva... er liberate the country and it's people. Bush also praised Disney and the RIAA for endorsement of the Antigua liberation from terror."

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